Every team wants to have control over its own fate going into the last few games of the season, and that’s the position the Hillsdale girls’ volleyball team is in.
“Second to none is not an option,” Hillsdale coach Richard Villareal said. “If you have an opportunity to play for first, so be it.”
The Knights (14-9, 9-2 Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division) trail first place Terra Nova (19-6, 10-1 PAL Ocean) by one game in the PAL Ocean and face off with the Tigers on Tuesday.
“This is what we wanted. We wanted to take care of our next step,” Villareal said. “This is our road to the Super Bowl.”
Hillsdale set itself up by winning a five-set thriller against South City on Oct. 25 to claim sole possession of second place.
“I knew South City was going to be a challenge for us,” Villareal said. “It’s really all about [the] mental game.”
The Knights took a commanding 2-0 lead in their match against South City before letting the Warriors roar back to tie the match 2-2.
“There’s a saying that goes, ‘All things are possible when you believe,’” Villareal said. “I say, ‘Everything is possible when you believe.’”
Hillsdale came out the gate to take a 6-1 lead in the fifth set and took it 15-13.
It was only last season that Hillsdale went winless in the PAL Bay Division, two years after claiming an Ocean co-championship with Mills.
Last season the team played without one of its key players, middle blocker Kelley Maloney, as she focused on softball.
But heading into this season, Maloney returned and Villareal saw the potential in his team to win the league.
“I told her to inspire us because she’s our best middle,” Villareal said.
Hillsdale’s team chemistry and belief in each other has played a big part of the team’s success, according to Villareal.
“We don’t give up on each other,” Villareal said. “You just have to believe as a team that you can do it together. If we’re outstanding, I can’t really tell you [who is best] because they all contributed to the win.”
Hillsdale knows its work is not complete and continues to work on its serves and team defense.
The Knights have two matches remaining in the regular season, with Terra Nova on Tuesday and Capuchino on Thursday.
A win Tuesday would tie the Knights for first place. Terra Nova defeated Hillsdale 3-1 in San Mateo on Oct. 6.
Terra Nova has won five straight matches.
Hillsdale has not been to the Central Coast Section playoffs since 1997.